Facebook Marketing Partner Smartly.io Closes $20 Million Investment in Secondary Funding Round


Smartly.Io To Expand Leadership Team With Top Ad Industry Talent To Acquire New Customers With More Tailor-Made Solutions

Smartly.io, a Facebook advertising creative, optimization and automation tool that recently surpassed $1 billion in annual ad spend on its platform, announced a $20 million investment by Highland Europe. After two years of profitability, Smartly.io pursued a secondary funding round, in which part of existing stakeholders’ shares were sold, to build upon the strength of its Board of Directors and tap into Highland Europe’s experience building high-growth companies and the executive teams behind them.

Creative Automation Bolsters Position

Kristo Ovaska
Kristo Ovaska, Founder, CEO, Smartly.io

Founder and CEO at Smartly.io, Kristo Ovaska, spoke to us and  laid the company’s roadmap to becoming the best tool to acquire and grow customers online with automation and optimization of Facebook marketing campaigns.

Latest Funding Follows High YoY Growth Rate

Backed by product innovation and a visionary model, Smartly.io is pivoting its growth on developing cross platform attribution tools, so that advertisers can more easily see what kind of advertising is driving results in various parts of the online sales funnel.

Kristo said, “Our primary goals are to build an outstanding product and a strong team. After two years of profitability we didn’t need a growth round, but were looking for an experienced partner to help us manage and build upon the existing high growth rate. This past June we reached a $1 billion run rate in ad spend and have grown 10 percent month-over-month over the past year – and we’re only a four-year-old company. We pursued a secondary funding round to sustain this growth and continue on the current trajectory.”

He added how most of Smartly.io customers are already fueling their campaigns with third party data tools and their own business intelligence systems to optimize their ad spend allocation and targeting.

Kristo explained, “Given our track record in partnering with the most advanced Facebook advertisers, Highland Europe saw the potential in our company and platform. Highland also builds upon the strength of our Board of Directors and will help us scale our North American Leadership team as we expand in the US and globally.”

Irena Goldenberg, General Partner, Highland Europe, said, “With two billion monthly active users, Facebook is one of the most important channels for acquiring and growing customers online and we see most of our portfolio companies investing in it heavily. Many are even already using Smartly, who’s proven in very short time that its people, culture and technology have all come together in just the right combination to deliver tremendous returns to marketers. Social’s share of ad spend is only growing, and we’re excited to become a part of Smartly’s continued growth alongside it.”

Creative Automation with Video Templates: A Form of Compelling Ad Engagement

Creative Automation is the single biggest reason Smartly.io has grown as fast as it has, with companies relying on it to automatically pull product images into compelling ads in formats such as Dynamic Ads for Products, Facebook Canvas & Collection Ads, and Instagram Stories. Its upcoming automated video templates are in beta, with positive feedback and strong demand as video advertising expands rapidly.

Highland Europe has a Key Role to Play in The Accelerated Growth Plan

For Smartly.io, bringing Highland Europe onboard as an investor would enable the automation SaaS provider to tap into their network and learn from their experience in executive recruiting, scaling organizations and global growth. It also grants Smartly.io “access to a large fund should we ever need capital for acquisitions or more aggressive expansion.”

Solving Pain Points for Advertisers Critical to Adding Value to Customer Base

The funding comes at the right time for Smartly.io as it expands its vision to cater to a larger set of brands and agencies to grow customer base. Kristo said, “Acquiring new customers also benefits the existing ones; having visibility to pain points of more advertisers will help us innovate to improve the platform for all users. That in and of itself has always been a true value addition for our customer base. We work in iterative way with our customers, constantly taking their feedback and looking to incorporate that into our product. All of our customers, no matter the size, will benefit from our partnership with Highland Europe.”

He added, “As we grow and develop as a company we’re able to offer more tailored solutions to customers in various industries. When we first came to market we focused on ecommerce advertisers, now we’ve expanded to serving customers in travel, retail, financial services, gaming, and so forth.”

Evolution of Social Media Advertising and Intelligence Industry By 2020

Using Creative Automation, all advertisers would be able to personalize ad creatives for different audience profiles and create ad images and video dynamically at scale. Kristo said, “By 2020 personalized video advertising will be the new industry standard.”

Further probing revealed that Smartly.io is focused at making Dynamic Ads for Products and Dynamic Ads for Travel better with innovation. Kristo explained, “Starting with Dynamic Ads for Products and continuing with solutions like Dynamic Ads for Travel, Facebook has been creating tools for marketers across different verticals. This will drive advertisers to shift ad dollars from traditional media to platforms like Facebook.”

Over 500 brands and agencies including eBay, Zillow, JustFab, Fabletics, BARK, Hopper, SkyScanner, Lazada, Zalora and Deliveroo already rely on Smartly.io to run Facebook advertising at scale.

Laura Joukovski, SVP of Media and Analytics, TechStyle Fashion Group, said, “In working with Smartly, we can truly envision a future where everything is automated. Smartly’s Dynamic Image Templates have already changed the way we do business. Creating customised videos manually is hard, which is why we’re extremely excited about taking our advertising to the next level with video automation.”

Facebook and Google Drive Maximum Product Innovations

Kristo acknowledged that the majority of growth in online ad spend has been attributed to Facebook and Google in recent years. He said, “Facebook is only getting more powerful as an advertising platform as its user base and dataset continue to grow. Smartly.io solves some of the most challenging and technical issues around Facebook and Instagram advertising. We’ve helped hundreds of brands and agencies save a lot of time and energy while scaling their Facebook and Instagram advertising through our automation and optimization tools.”

He added, “Back in 2015 we won Facebook’s Innovation Award with our Dynamic Image Templates – image overlays and editing tools that take product images and information from your catalog and dynamically render them into ads for different formats and audiences.”

Backed by the newly acquired capital, the company is determined to realign its operations to focus in new forms of creative automation, especially lightweight dynamic video ads. As Kristo puts it, Smartly.io is “also looking into other platforms, too, beyond Facebook and Instagram and how we could solve customer pain points involved in online advertising overall.”

As the industry moves to automated A/B testing and predictive intelligence for managing marketing resources, Smartly.io’s funding round has opened up new avenues for marketers to grow their ad creation inventory for better promotion and prospecting to a much larger audience.

Also Read: The 3 Biggest Challenges Marketers Will Face in the Next 5 Years

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